Question: Weâre getting a puppy soon and my wife has been told that puppy pads are the best way to potty train. Is that true?
Answer: Puppy pads, (for the uninitiated) are disposable pads designed for potty training They’re impregnated with an attractant to encourage your puppy to pee on it. I personally donât recommend them at all, unless you live in a high rise and canât hustle your pup outdoors in an expeditious way.
I believe in teaching your puppy to go the bathroom outside, which is actually pretty easy. But when you teach your pup a protocol wherein he goes to the bathroom inside sometimes and outside at other times, it sends a mixed message. I donât want my puppy to think itâs ever OK to go the bathroom indoors. Potty training is demanding enough without adding another element to it.
The two most important pieces to potty training victory are, setting your puppy up for success, and rewarding him every single time he goes to the bathroom outside. Ideally, we also use a crate as a potty training tool, because a right sized crate, keeps a puppy honest, and dogs have a subconscious reluctance to soil their den.
Setting your dog up for potty training success starts with having him on a feeding schedule. Little puppies should eat 3 times a day. You can cut back to twice a day at about 6 or 8 months. Leaving his food down for 10 minutes or so, then picking up the dish, teaches him to eat expediently. A feeding schedule will help you in determining his pooping schedule too. Food in, food out, right? Be advised however, it could take a while to get this schedule really dialed in, because his little body and digestive tract are in the process of maturation. With vigilant observation, you can still sort out his schedule fairly well though, and it definitely gets easier over time.
As a general rule of thumb, you should take your pup outside after he eats, after he plays, and after he naps. For good measure, take him out at least every couple of hours. This is part of the whole “setting him up for success” strategy. You’re playing the odds. And by always keeping a close eye on your puppy and taking him out frequently, he basically doesnât have an opportunity to go to the bathroom indoors.
But the very most important aspect of potty training is rewarding him when he goes to the bathroom outside within 2 seconds. Donât wait until you come back indoors! Your puppy wonât associate the two things with such a large time gap. Itâs simple conditioning. All training hinges on immediate positive feedback. So take him out, go to the spot you want him to âgoâ in, give him a cue, (I use âhurry upâ), then just wait. Follow him around and donât repeat the cue. Youâre just waiting now. The second he finishes praise him up, and give him a teensy treat. Tell him âGood boy, hurry up!â (If you jump the gun on praising, you may distract him.)
Ultimately, your little guy will learn to go to the bathroom outside because every time he does so, itâs a party! âEvery time I go to the bathroom outside, itâs quite wonderful! I get affection, praise and a treat!â
Learning his schedule helps this process, but if your pup needs to go at a time youâre not ready, often he will signal itâs time, with a little ground sniffing and circling. When you see this, scoop him up, whisk him out, and follow the above protocol. Always have tiny treats ready unbeknownst to him, so he gets a little oral gratification as part of the party. At least at first.
If youâre vigilant with his supervision and follow the above process, itâs only a matter of time before your puppy figures out the pattern and youâll be done with potty training.
Originally from Louisiana, Gregg Flowers is a local dog trainer who âteaches dogs and trains people.â Contact him at email@example.com or dogsbestfriendflorida.com.